U.S. offers $1 million reward in 2010 death of border agent

WASHINGTON Mon Jul 9, 2012 5:04pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal investigators offered up to $1 million on Monday for information about a U.S. border agent's 2010 death, the same case that is fueling an election-year firestorm between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans.

Republicans highlighted the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry as they investigated Operation Fast and Furious, a since-abandoned program that targeted the flow of illegal guns across the U.S.-Mexico border to drug cartels.

Two guns found at the scene of Terry's death in Arizona were among those that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attempted to track as part of the botched gun-control operation.

The political dispute culminated in a vote last month by the Republican-led House of Representatives to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt for withholding documents. It is likely headed next for a federal court in Washington.

Holder said in a statement on Monday that the unsealing of an indictment of six men reflects an "unrelenting commitment to finding and arresting" those responsible for Terry's death.

The indictment charges five of the men with first-degree murder. The men crossed into Arizona from Mexico intending to rob drug traffickers and killed Terry during a December 2010 gun fight with him and three other agents, the indictment says.

The reward of up to $1 million is for information leading to the arrests of four of the men who are not in custody.

The five men charged with first-degree murder are Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza. They face other charges including assault on a federal officer.

A sixth defendant, Rito Osorio-Arellanes, pleaded guilty in February to a single count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, court records say.

CLAMOR FOR ANSWERS

Manuel and Rito Osorio-Arellanes are in custody, the Justice Department said in a news release. A lawyer for Rito Osorio-Arellanes declined to comment on Monday. A lawyer for Manuel Osorio-Arellanes did not respond to a request for comment.

A grand jury handed up the nine-page indictment on November 7, 2011. A federal court sealed the indictment at the request of prosecutors.

Six news organizations, critical of the lack of public information available about the case, asked the court to unseal the indictment and all other records. "To date, the entirety of this case has unfolded secretly, even as the public clamored for answers about Agent Terry's death," they wrote in a January court filing.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley, the first lawmaker to draw attention to Operation Fast and Furious, had previously asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to put those suspected in Terry's death on the bureau's "most wanted" list.

Holder, who is head of the Justice Department in Obama's Democratic administration, has said that politics is driving the House's inquiry. The department says it has released more than 7,000 documents to a House committee, showing that officials in Washington initially knew little of the gun-running operation.

The Justice Department's inspector general is conducting its own investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (3)
ccharles wrote:
Transparency isnt a strong point in any part of Goverment. They dont mention if the suspects are all illegal immigrants? They do say that the one they had has had other charges in the USA. Why do we want to catch these individuals, especailly if they are illegals? Just as a test to see how “Good” we are? What is the point. So we can house 6 illegal people for the rest of there natural lives? They cant get the death penalty.

This should be a push to work on getting the illegal numbers down, and do something to stem the flow of illegals coming in. One way to do this would be to charge any country that someone is deported to a fee for deportation and immigrations, $25,000. Charge it to there goverment, and if they wont or cant pay, take it out of there aid they receive from the usa… use that money to defray the costs to the taxpayers. I bet the other countrys would become pro active about there boarders in ways that a million talks could never do.

Jul 09, 2012 5:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobber1956 wrote:
Do I get 1 mil for providing information on where the weapons came from? I know that one.

Jul 09, 2012 6:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
joeyyeo wrote:
July 5, 2012, Ron Paul states that Bush is deep into United States drug smuggling as well as Hillary being deep into Fast and Furious. Why in the hell wasnt Part 2, the drug smuggling ever brought up or interrogation of Hillary, Holder, Obama and the entire administration? You might as well throw Bill Clinton in the mix too, he and Bush were drug smuggling buddies years ago. Come on Congress,,, WHATS RIGHT IS RIGHT AND WHATS WRONG IS WRONG ! Trey Gowdy is possibly the only individual with enough strength to get to the bottom of this corrupt Obama administration. Impeach all of them now and punish them like any other American citizen would be punished.

Jul 15, 2012 1:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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